From girly to Mod, voluminous to polished, designers had one common denominator this season: fresh, wearable clothes.

Malandrino: After sitting out last season, Catherine Malandrino is back in the fashion game, forsaking a traditional show in favor of a stunning presentation at the Pace Wildenstein gallery. Malandrino's models stood atop a grid of concrete pedestals of varying heights, and though the overall effect was remarkably similar to McQueen's chessboard finale from last year, the beautiful clothes were enough to forgive any indiscretion. Inspired by Amish handcraft and the colors of West Africa, Malandrino fashioned some exquisite coats, as in an ivory silk number done up in alternating panels of pintucking and trapunto stitching. A-line sheaths in rustic prints or patchwork were suspended from necklaces or cinched under the bust with belts, both sporting large wooden paillettes. And to complete the look of all that handcraft chic: a new shoe collection featuring such natural materials as wood, leather and macramé.

Wunderkind: Third time's a charm for Wolfgang Joop. After his first two forays into the New York tents were met with mixed results, Joop delivered a strong collection Thursday that was theatrical, but still structured. An oversized shirtdress could have looked downright messy, but instead worked beautifully with its layers of raw-edged tuxedo pleats down the front. Razor-sharp suit jackets with horizontal pleats at their bottoms (indeed, pleats were a central theme) were softened with voluminous cotton voile wrap blouses, slouchy trousers or double-hemmed skirts. The designer didn't give much attention to prints, but the subtle plaids and oversized florals he did use looked great in the mishmash of textures and shapes. The same goes for eveningwear, where pleats again showed up, this time in nude silk and peeking out from under a black Chantilly lace halter gown.

Thakoon: Three-and-a-half seasons into his fledgling career, Thakoon Panichgul upgraded from his past tableaux vivant presentations to a full-fledged runway show. This change is a rite of passage for a young designer, but too bad for those who enjoy lingering over his unusual, pretty details and visual wit. In fact, he opened his show with a flourish of said wit — two organza dresses with a ghostly, graded-scallop pattern accomplished by layering the material. Most of Panichgul's detail, in fact, came via fabric manipulation. Fluttering petals of cloth trimmed dresses and knits and even formed a lovely necklace. Seaming based on diamond facets added a sort of trompe l'oeil dimension to satin dresses. His silhouettes were more girlish than womanly, as seen in slightly poufed skirts and dresses that ended north of the knee. Overall, it was a fresh, lovely collection, but some looks pushed the cute factor to the limit.Jenni Kayne: In the three years since launching her Los Angeles-based line, Jenni Kayne has experienced all the typical growing pains of a young designer. But her New York debut here on Wednesday showed that Kayne has lived and learned, and is ready to shine. Her clothes brought to mind Slim Aarons' “A Place in the Sun,” but with a decidedly modern twist. Think lace-trimmed dusters, grass-skimming gowns and lean knits, all mixed and matched to perfection. Her hometown girls likely will go for the sunny yellow crepe de chine cross-gathered dress for day, or the gold-sequined apron dress for red-carpet nights. New Yorkers will cozy up to the muted cashmere knits, or tropical wool blazer and sashed shorts.

In any case, Kayne proved she's got the skills to charm both coasts.

Vivienne Tam: The challenge for Vivienne Tam is maintaining her signature chinoiserie without, well, overdoing it. After last season's Garbo-inspired fest, the designer settled on Edie Sedgwick this time around, moving Tam's traditional motifs into a new Sixties Mod direction. There were polkadot chiffon shifts and rompers and floral baby-doll numbers, accompanied by her usual Sino chic, such as peony eyelet and embroidered accents. And despite one decidedly out of place organza paillette pouf dress and a few overly macraméd numbers, it all made for a refreshingly simple and charming lineup.

Phi: For the past few seasons, Susan Dell and her design director, Andreas Melbostad, have run counter to the fashion hegemony. As embellishment and nonintellectual clothes made up the prevailing scene, they went for minimal, sober colors, a light touch of the avant-garde and a decidedly ungirlish brand of chic. Well, once again, they are zigging as others zag. There were few pants in Dell's spring collection. Instead, she sent out mostly full skirts and dresses that often poufed with tiered layers and were decorated with a graphic floral appliqué and lace. Busts were tightly constructed to counter below-the-waist volume. As the show progressed, the color quotient leaped to bright fuchsias and reds, in intarsia knits and a geometric-and-floral print. As usual, every piece was constructed with the sort of perfectionism luxury clothes should always have. But along with excellent production quality, wearability has been a Phi hallmark. And one had to question just how viable these very girlish, above-the-knee silhouettes might be.Christopher Deane: Christopher Crawford and Angela Deane know that in the summer, a girl likes looks that are easy, yet polished. The duo accomplished just that with a fabulous array of dresses, some done in a gorgeous, jewel-toned geometric color block, others in a large-scale feather print. There were also gowns for the fanciest of affairs, but the designers still kept the utmost comfort in mind, such as a breezy black cotton gauze number with satin insets at the bustline. Many looks were cinched with amusing wide belts made of denim in different colors. Separates were strong, as well, especially the fitted shrunken blazers and loose shorts.

Zero Maria Cornejo: Maria Cornejo's sculptural chic trappings make for better bedfellows with fall's woolen coats and heavier fabrics. But silk charmeuse dresses and knotted jersey tops aside, her spring showing of bamboo wrap dresses and curved-seamed jackets lived up to her architectural simplicity without being too plain. And she launched accessories to boot: handbags folded and fastened from a single piece of leather, as well as a collaboration with Keds featuring skimmers with grosgrain-ribbon wraparounds.

Milly: Lilly Pulitzer has a bit of competition among the preppy Palm Beach set. Michelle Smith's Milly collection offered PYTs plenty of her signature feminine print dresses in patterns like paisley, Moroccan motifs, chevron and lanterns, all with a Sixties flair. The designer also injected more sportswear looks this spring, with great eyelet jackets, tulip skirts and trenchcoats. Indeed, Smith turned out a charming, though somewhat safe, lineup that only occasionally veered toward the overly stiff.

Mary Ping: Mary Ping continues to cement her reputation for designing simple, lovely and wearable clothes. Her spring lineup was inspired by men's wear but it still maintained a certain femininity and grace. The designer sent out fantastically soft cottons cut into T-shirt dresses; turned a men's-looking, striped button-down into a sexy dress, and intermixed plenty of Bermuda shorts and a great black trench. Her colors were just right, too, with pale blue and cobalt silks and a complementary infusion of navy and rust.

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